BECKLEY, WV (WOAY)- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and West Virginia University Institute of Technology have partnered to expand a program aimed at sharing drug abuse prevention information with eighth grade students.
The initiative, launched in March 2017, now involves WVU Tech’s Department of Nursing, as well as five programs at four other universities.
The WVU Tech collaboration kicked off earlier this month with visits to Ansted Middle School in Fayette County and Shady Spring Middle School in Raleigh County.
“These universities continue to be key players in meeting health care needs in our state,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Adding WVU Tech’s Department of Nursing to the roster expands our geographic footprint and means more opportunities to reach students, especially in southern West Virginia. Working together to educate students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse will lead to a brighter future.”
The program reached more than 8,150 students during the 2017-18 academic year as nursing, pharmacy and health education students partnered with the Attorney General to visit middle schools across the state.
The Attorney General’s Office will coordinate events and provide WVU Tech’s Department of Nursing with a detailed curriculum, which then will be presented by WVU Tech students. The curriculum covers multiple aspects of the opioid epidemic, including the connection between prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction, prevention and the long-term impact of drug use.
Crystal Sheaves, assistant professor and chair of WVU Tech’s Department of Nursing, said the partnership seems like a natural fit with WVU Tech’s Community Health Nursing curriculum. It also helps the critical need of addressing the region’s drug epidemic.
“We see this program as a way to intervene early with young children, to potentially impact our drug abuse statistics in the future,” Sheaves said. “Nursing as a profession has long held that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This program gives middle school students who may be exposed to drug abuse in their families and communities some tools to avoid going down the same path. I think it helps open their eyes to the health consequences of drug abuse, and guides them on how to prevent getting themselves involved in some of those wrong choices down the road.”
Others partnering with the Attorney General’s Office are the West Virginia University Schools of Nursing and Pharmacy, along with Marshall University School of Nursing, Shepherd University Department of Nursing Education and Concord University Department of Health, Physical Education and Athletic Training.
The collaboration with each university represents one initiative through which the Attorney General has sought to combat West Virginia’s drug overdose death rate. It follows his widely successful Kids Kick Opioids public service announcement contest, also targeted at raising drug prevention awareness with elementary and middle school students.
Other initiatives include criminal prosecutions, civil litigation, sweeping changes to drug policy, multistate partnerships, new technology, awareness initiatives, engagement with the faith-based community and a best practices toolkit endorsed by more than 25 national and state stakeholders.